Letter from Samuel Arnold to John Wilkes Booth, March 27, 1865

After John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln investigators searched Booth's hotel room in Washington.  They discovered in a trunk a letter contained in an envelope marked "Important" and signed with Booth's initials.  The letter was  from a "friend" named "SAM," presumably Samuel Arnold.  The full text of the letter follows:

Hookstown, Balto. Co.
March 27, 1865

 Dear John:  Was business so important that you could not remain in Balto. till I saw you?  I came in as soon as I could, but found you had gone to Wn.  I called also to see Mike, but learned from his mother he had gone out with you, and had not returned.  I concluded, therefore, he had gone with you.  How inconsiderate you have been!  When I left you, you stated we would not meet in a month or so.  Therefore, I made application for employment, an answer to which I shall receive during the week.  I told my parents I had ceased with you.  Can I, then, under existing circumstances, come as you request?  You know full well that the Gt suspicions something is going on there; therefore, the undertaking is becoming more complicated.  Why not, for the present, desist, for various reasons, which, if you look into, you can readily see, without my making any mention thereof.  You, nor any one, can censure me for my present course.  You have been its cause, for how can I now come after telling them I had left you?  Suspicion rests upon me now from my whole family, and even parties in the county.  I will be compelled to leave home any how, and how soon I care not.  None, no not one, were more in favor of the enterprise than myself, and to-day would be there, had you not done as you haveby this I mean, manner of proceeding.  I am, as you well know, in need.  I am, you may say, in rags, whereas to-day I ought to be well clothed.  I do not feel right stalking about with means, and more from appearances a beggar.  I feel my dependence; but even all this would and was forgotten, for I was one with you.  Time more propitious will arrive yet.  Do not act rashly or in haste.  I would prefer your first query, go and see how it will be taken at R----d, and ere long I shall be better prepared to again be with you.  I dislike writing,; would sooner verbally make known my views; yet your non-writing causes me thus to proceed.
 Do not in anger peruse this.  Weigh all I have said, and, as a rational man and a friend, you can not censure or upbraid my conduct.  I sincerely trust this, nor aught else that shall or may occur, will ever be an obstacle to obliterate our former friendship and attachment.  Write me to Balto., as I expect to be in about Wednesday or Thursday, or, if you can possibly come on, I will Tuesday meet you, in Balto., at B----.  Ever I subscribe myself,

Your friend,



Lincoln Assassination 
Conspiracy Trial Home